The Road to Brno
Brno, Moravia, Czech Republic
I lay on my bed in my hotel room in Brno, sipping on Fantas from the room’s mini bar, watching a German karaoke contest on Czech television and contemplating life as a business traveller. I contemplate other things. Is the women behind the reception trying to find her rich British ticket out? The length of her mini skirt hints at low self esteem, ulterior motives and a possible textile shortage in the Czech Republic. It also suggests something about the hotel’s quality and reputation. The skirt length of the snobbish receptionist at the four star hotel I was turned away from hours ago was at least six inches longer. The skirt length of the 17-year-old I was dancing with at a Czech disco in Cesky Krumlov last night even had a good two inches on this women’s skirt. I debate going down to the lobby to enquire about the managers suspect hiring policies, or possibly engage her in a conversation about workers rights, sexual harassment and organizing a union within the hotel to stand up against this obviously oppressive hotel owner. At very least, I debate propositioning this woman to accept money for sex. But its getting late and the WHAM music video “Last Christmas” just came on with German subtitles…
Our story continues. My last day in Prague I decided I would climb the mighty hill to the Petronus view tower. I did many things that day but failed to reach the tower. I was hiking on the winding pathways of the Mala Strana, a steep hill that ascends towards the tower at the top, and provides stunning views of mother Prague. Most people take a gondola style funicular railway to the top, especially in winter when the pathways of the Mala Strana are icy and abandoned. I soon discovered why. My shoes were of poor quality and had very little tread remaining. I am notoriously clumsy.
I made it up the hill without incident, discovering, among other things at the top, the world’s largest stadium. Capable of holding 240,000 people, the stadium was built during the communist era to house national gymnastics competitions in which 40,000 competitors would compete at once. U2 and Rolling Stones both recently played here but failed to fill half of it.
I was filled to the brim with confidence having just ascended the hill successfully. And so, it occurred to me upon my way back down that I could save a lot of time by traversing straight down the hill. As fate would have it, I slipped, rolled down the hill, managing to stop only at the next pathway. The result; a bruised ass, rolled ankle, some minor cuts, muddy jeans and a destroyed ego. I stumbled back to my hostel to wallow in self pity, clean my jeans, and prepare for a second evening at a Czech jazz club (Czech jazz is heavy on the keyboards and saxophone, just the way I like it).
A bus to Cesky Krumlov the next morning brought me to greener pastures; Banff without the price tag. It’s a town of 14,000 hugging the white water Vltava River. More than 50 bridges, winding narrow cobble stone streets, 5 hostels, a fairy tale castle, and an English language bookstore filled with the likes of Hunter S. Thompson, Noam Chomsky and Naomi Klein. In summer, the town fills up with British hippies who flock there to float down the river in rented inner tubes as they smoke marijuana and drink cheap pilsner. In winter, it is only locals. And so, 2 amazing nights of drunken nonkey orgies ensued (again mother, don’t take this one too literally. I would never have sex with a monkey, that’s gross. Its more of a…figure of speech?). Drinking with locals, dining on Bohemian feasts, dancing with Czech women, and testing out the Czech pick up lines from my Lonely Planet Czech phrase book that I got for my birthday. I was accompanied in these adventures by a 39-year-old hippy from Manchester and a 19-year-old shepherd from Australia…
The Christmas Story
As I hopped on my sketchy Soviet bus on Christmas Eve, I felt as the Virgin Mary. The night sky was clear, and the north star was visible to the…north. A week of living like a king had expanded my belly and I felt that inside lurked a special kind of baby. I rode into town on a bus that moved slowly like a mule. I walked into the Grand Hotel across from the bus station, hoping to get room at the costly inn. I could feel my belly rumble, and I knew that this special baby, the product of sour kraut, pilsner and the dog meat I had no doubt consumed in the previous 24 hours, could not wait. The snobbish receptionist told me the cost was Â£50. A week of high living had left my finances in shambles and I was turned away into the streets. I wondered the cobbled alleyways until I found a more modest pension. I quickly paid the aforementioned receptionist and hurried to my stable-like room. I looked down at the toilet. The design was very Eastern European and like nothing I had ever seen, hardly the place to birth the king of all poos. There was no choice. This ‘mangy’ toilet would have to do. It was glorious. A beautiful, brown Christ Poo. History repeats itself…
Now I am in a fancy restaurant in Brno eating lasagne and drinking beer. Nelly Furtado ‘s “I’m like a bird” is playing on the radio. I am tipsy and its time to find the airport.
I have found a kindred spirit in Macaulay Culkin as I sit in the bizarre Brno airport bar watching a dubbed over version of Home Alone. He’s alone on Christmas Eve and is having a hell of a time eluding two clumsy and gullible thieves. I am alone on Christmas Eve and am having a hell of a time musing about the oddities of this strange place and drinking yet another cheap Czech beer. I think it’s time to switch to coffee. By the way, Joe Pesci’s brand of physical humour transcends the language barrier. Home Alone is a Christmas classic in any country. I forgot that John Candy had a cameo appearance in that movie.
I am not used of freedom, but I think I have found it in, of all places, Eastern Europe. When accompanied by friends one does not have complete freedom. Reputation, tomorrow morning and grandparent’s opinions keep people from dancing naked, singing in public, and snorting cocaine off the bellies of underage girls. Not to say that I did any of these things. The point is that I had the freedom to do them because I was alone. You’d be surprised what people will do when they know that no one will find out… Unfortunately, I confess my deepest thoughts to my publishers, thus preventing me from acting upon these inappropriate desires. That, and its probably a bad idea for a teacher to snort cocaine with anyone, especially with an underage girl… I digress.